Grilling is somewhere between an art and a science. While on one side there is some hard science as to how hot you have to have the grill and the temperature and cooking time, there is also a science to the perfect combination of flavors, tastes, and even methods. Ribs, in particular, are notoriously hard to tell if they are done as there is so much variance from rib to rib. And, even worse, each cook seems to have a different tried-and-true method for telling if ribs are done.
So, instead, here are some of the most common ways to check your ribs, that way you can decide which works best for you:
The crack test
This test involves seeing if the bark cracks when you lift it up. With tongs, pick up the slab and heft/bounce them up and down slightly. When they are ready, you’ll see a crack on the surface. A small crack means that the ribs need a little more time; when they’re done the ribs will be close to breaking when you heft them.
The toothpick test
I personally don’t have much experience with this, but the idea is kind of similar to when you’re baking something. Stick a toothpick into the meat between the bones and if it slides in and out easily with little to no resistance, then the ribs are done. If it is difficult, then they need more time. Due to varying thickness, it’s generally a good idea to test in several locations.
The twist test
A perfectly done rack of ribs will come away from the bones cleanly, and you can use that to test. Take a hold of the tip of one of the middle bones and twist it. It should start to break free easily; that means that the collagen in the connective tissue has melted to gelatin and the rib is done.
The color test
This is my preferred method for testing ribs. Basically, you cut a slice into the thickest part of the meat to see if it’s done. When cooked properly, the meat in the center should be tan, and the juice should be clear (or, at the least, not pink). Remember that there may be some pink meat near the surface depending on how you cooked it, but the middle should always be tan. It might make your ribs look a little less pretty, but since you’re going to be cutting them apart and butting on BBQ sauce anyway, no one will notice.
I’ve heard of plenty of other ways to test if ribs are done, including cutting off a piece to taste, waiting until the meat shrinks, or even simply calculating by temperature and time (which is probably a more reliable method if you know what your’e doing). But these are my preferred methods.
So, how do you tell that your ribs are done? Leave me a note below!